Whether you take a short weekend road trip near home or a longer cross-country trek to visit far-flung relatives, summertime is the season for family travel. Here are my favorite "on-the-road" tips for together-time fun:
Are we there yet?
Curb that curious question with mileage-countdown bags. Drop special snacks and toys in separate paper lunch bags (toddlers especially like toys that involve travel, such as small trains, buses, cars and trucks, while kids ages 4 and 5 like fabric hand puppets and cloth books with buttoning, lacing and counting activities inside). Label the bags with selected cities or mileage points where the kids might be ready for timely treats and activities. Highlight the selected cities on a road map for the kids to follow, and distribute the bags as each point is reached.
Postcards from the road
Fill a small bag with art supplies and blank, pre-stamped postcards that you've addressed with names of relatives and friends. During the trip, children may create day-by-day pictures of their experiences. Encourage them to draw scenes of the places you visit and people you see. Write a message on the opposite side and drop the one-of-a-kind postcard in the mail.
Make an audio postcard
Toss blank cassettes and a portable tape recorder in the car and assist the kids in playing road journalist. This simple journal of the trip might include recordings of what you see, who you meet and candid impressions of each day. Older children may pretend they are reporters and interview people such as forest rangers, zookeepers or museum guides. When you return home, be sure to label and save the cassettes as a treasured memento to enjoy in years to come.
© Donna Erickson